Created by Philip Ketchum (pseudonyms include Jean Bellamy & Miriam Leslie; 1902-1969)
I couldn't find out miuch about private eye STEPHEN BARTH, but his only recorded case, Death in the Library by Philip Ketchum is much spought after by collectors.
Between 1942 and 1962 (according to William H. Lyles, Putting Dell on the Map) Dell pumped out over two thousand paperbacks, but their very first in the "keyhole" series was a reprint of Death in the Library.
They were called the keyhole series, at least among collectors, because the cover featured an eye peeking through a keyhole, and the back blurb "This is a DELL BOOK presenting a new exciting Mystery Series selected by the Editors of America's Foremost Detective Magazines."
Each book in the series also included a cast of characters and a list entitled "Things this Mystery is about--".
In the case of Death in the Library, the mystery was about "A disturbing letter. A suicide note. The Fallen Book. Cancelled checks. The key in the old cigar box. Capsules within capsules. The missing gun. And a private investigator on a personal prowl."
The back cover blurb was soon replaced by map just a few more volumes down the line; conicidentally the very first "mapback," Dell #5, also featured a private eye, George Harmon Coxe's Jack Fenner (and newshawk Kent Murdock).
The whole Dell format was effectively (and lovingly) parodied years later in 1998's By the Balls by "Dashiell Loveless", a bowling mystery featuring Benjamin Drake.
The author was born and educated in Colorado and was involved in social work for 10 years before turning to writing and moving to California, according to Hubin.
Report submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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